Save. Spend. Splurge.

Freedom: The one thing that we can but also can’t buy that ultimately makes us happy

Feeling a little philosophical today.

The other day I was thinking about freedom and all of its forms, specifically financial freedom.

A lot of us (myself and my partner included), save our money and bank it away so that we achieve some form of financial freedom and avoid having any kind of debt (even mortgage debt).

This financial freedom we achieve is freedom from having to rely on a specific company to pay us a bi-weekly salary to make it through life, and freedom from having to do what they want because we have so many bills we can’t afford to let slide.

In this case, you certainly can buy freedom with your savings.

… but then I thought about personal freedom.

When I read the book: Kabul Beauty School, I was struck by the descriptions of how the women lived there. The very rich, lived in compounds where everything was done for them and they had absolutely nothing to want or need from their life…. except perhaps, personal freedom.

Sure, their needs were taken care of, but I suppose it’s a lot like being a bird trapped in a golden cage with keepers to tend to its needs 24/7.

In that case, you can’t buy freedom, no matter how rich you are.

A bird flying around in a beautiful, golden cage is still a bird in a cage compared to its wild outdoorsy counterpart.


I’d rather be free and struggle to make my way through life, making my own choices and having free will than to be kept in a cage and not allowed to express personal opinions, have the freedom to think and to be personally free, that is, in charge of my own life.

Of course this is very easy for me to say, seeing as I am not in poverty and am very well off considering my age, but I can see this behaviour of mine manifest in my career.

In my career, I’ve always had a problem with not feeling autonomous and free.

I’ve never liked being told what to do without just cause, nor have I ever accepted that just because I am young, I have to listen to those who are older and more established in the business because….. they’re older, not because they’re more experienced and knowledgeable (they weren’t).

I don’t mind learning, asking questions, and listening to those who know better than I, in fact, I want to spend the time to absorb everything they know so that I don’t have to rely on them in the future, but if I am being told that this is the way it is, don’t ask questions, it bothers me greatly especially if I know that I am right and they are not (particularly in my industry, where you can be proven right and wrong).

This is why freelancing appeals to me so greatly. I still have to answer to clients, but at least I get to choose the projects/clients and I don’t have to work (for peanuts) if I don’t want to.

It’s also why personal finance appeals to me so greatly. I get to choose to spend my money or not, knowing what is coming down the pipeline in the future in terms of an income, and I get to save my money to continue to stay financially independent and free.

I am also unable to live in countries that don’t allow said personal freedoms and privacy. I probably lean more towards being a libertarian than anything.



  • Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial

    My philosophy is that noone in society is ever truly free. By virtue of the fact that you live in a community there are obligations that you have and limits to the things you do. Clearly this varies from community to community what one “must” do.

    We happen to be lucky such that in our community one’s major “obligation” is to work a job until 65, an obligation enforced and equally circumvented by money. There are certainly limits imposed on our freedoms (you can think of minimum wage for instance, I cannot take make a contract of employment for less than $x per hour). But we have been inured to those lack of freedoms, either because we believe they benefit us overall as a community or because they align with us culturally so as not to seem big burdens to bear.


      Interesting point. We are also under the rule of a government so.. ‘free’? Remains to be really discussed.

      • Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial

        Yeah, if you’re interested in a more in depth analysis of why we should follow the law even if we didn’t get to choose to live under a particular government regime, Hobbes talks a lot about it in Leviathan. He was also a big royalist, though, so it’s not like he didn’t have a motive.

  • David @ Thinking Thrifty

    Great article. Yes, all I dream of is earning my time back. I have a full time job and a few side hustles now, but the end game is to make enough passive income so I can wave goodbye to the 9-5, work the hours and live the life I choose! The hard work will all be worth it someday!

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